The Lineup


Durham, N.C.

Like a bone healed stronger at the site of a fracture, the members of Durham's excellent and beloved behemoth Tooth have only grown into more daring and auspicious projects apart: the punk-metal bruiser Lurch, and Hog, a mammoth quartet comprising singer/ guitarist Rich James, bassist Ryland Fishel, drummer Noah Kessler and guitarist Alec Ferrell.

Hog, the first of the two Tooth offshoots to produce a record, has set a high bar for its hesher brethren at home in Durham, and beyond. Archetypes, the band's four-song, 25-minute debut, is a powerful introduction. Where Tooth shot from the hip, Hog offers an opportunity to expand the songwriting scope. Complex song structures unwind small epics, like the nine-minute closer "The Fourth Facet," which perhaps best encapsulates the quartet's capabilities. Solos built from metal's '70s hard-rock origins swerve through a dense, galloping rhythm. Singer and guitarist James opens a cavernous roar that tunnels between a Creston Spiers croak, a Matt Pike bellow and a Troy Sanders howl. Bassist Ryland Fishel takes a solo at the five-minute mark, leading the song into spacious post-metal territory.

It'd be easy to cloak Hog behind the band's debt to the Savannah scene that spawned Kylesa's consuming swamp-psych and Baroness' humid blend of classic rock, prog and blues-metal. Archetypes was, after all, produced by Kylesa leader Phillip Cope. But Hog's thoughtful and challenging approach to melodically engaging, ambitious metal is—as repeated listens reveal—its own. Within these songs, change is the only constant, making Hog an exercise in contrast. For Tooth fans, it's also a fulfillment of promise. —Bryan Reed